The northern Germany hydrogen economy
The northern German states of Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen, and Schleswig-Holstein are well known for their use of renewable energy, and are now joining together in what is called the HY-5 initiative to further stabilise their energy supply and diversify their renewable energy technologies.
Establishing a hydrogen economy
The HY-5 states are looking to hydrogen to accomplish their energy goals, having already established a hydrogen strategy to pave the way for an integrated green hydrogen economy.
Several factors put these northern German states in an ideal place to become leaders in the production and distribution of green hydrogen. First, the region contains extensive marine transport and gas pipeline links that can easily be modified to transport hydrogen. Second, there are many already established hubs for hydrogen industry and technology. Third, the extensive renewable energy infrastructure that has already been established is ideal for powering carbon neutral electrolysis.
The HY-5 states are strong contributors to hydrogen efforts in northwestern Europe, coming alongside the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark to accomplish the combined goal of producing over 5 GW of hydrogen by 2030.
Northern Germany hydrogen projects
The Clean Hydrogen Coastline project
German and Dutch partners have worked together on the Clean Hydrogen Coastline project to raise €1.3 billion for hydrogen technologies. The first phase of the project will be to establish a 200 MW hydrogen production site in Bremen, with a hydrogen storage location 20 km away. This project is closely linked with the HyPerLink project, designed to facilitate the transportation of hydrogen across Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark.
Companies like FAUN and EWE are also contributing to the Clean Hydrogen Coastline project. FAUN aims to expand production of their hydrogen powered refuse trucks to 12,000 by 2026, and is teaming up with the energy supplier EWE to support the development of hydrogen filling station infrastructure.
Statkraft and Energiepark Emden
Statkraft and Energiepark Emden, composed of Brons Group, GP Houle, SCORE, and Terravent, have committed to developing a 50 MW electrolyser facility in Emden. This is designed to supply the transport sector in western Germany, with the backing of SCORE to facilitate hydrogen distribution via its petrol station network.
Uniper’s green hydrogen hub
To further support the development of a green hydrogen economy in northern Germany, Uniper has scrapped its plans for a new liquid natural gas terminal in Wilhelmshaven in favour of a hydrogen import terminal, ammonia cracker, and electrolysis facility. The new goal is to supply nearby industrial hubs with 295,000 tonnes of hydrogen by 2030.
Uniper is also working alongside the steelmaker Salzgitter and Rhenus Logistics as part of a project to decarbonise the iron and steel industry by using green hydrogen.
Gasunie’s transnational hydrogen network
Gasunie is investigating the feasibility of using its gas pipeline network to distribute hydrogen throughout the Netherlands and to adjoining countries. The proposed hydrogen network will take advantage of the decommissioned Groningen gas field and neighboring wind farms for hydrogen generation, and the salt caverns for large scale hydrogen storage. This will allow for clean hydrogen energy to be used in industrial regions such as Ruhr.
With the help of 10 other gas companies from 9 different European countries, Gasunie has additionally drawn up plans for a hydrogen backbone gas distribution network across Europe.
Northern Germany hydrogen research projects
Several technology and research facilities, including Fraunhofer Institutes and Helmholtz centres, are fueling the hydrogen revolution through multiple avenues of research into hydrogen technology.
Northern Germany also hosts bases for established industrial companies such as Siemens, Shell, Daimler, and Linde, and for innovative hydrogen tech companies like GP Joule, Proton Motor, and APEX Energy. Each of these companies is contributing to the research and development of scalable hydrogen technologies to be used in the many hydrogen projects cropping up in northwestern Europe.
The HY-5 German states are on their way to becoming a leading example of a functional hydrogen economy, utilizing well-established renewable energy sources combined with a decentralized collection of projects to improve hydrogen production, storage, transport, and use.
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